Acknowledging Family Planning Concerns
The Fair Start Movement firmly believes that having smaller families is key to reducing inequality, ending child abuse, limiting climate change, and advancing human rights. However, we also recognize that the history of family planning interventions has been plagued by examples of coercion and control. This is why the Fair Start Movement supports smaller families across the board, as well as a distribution of societal resources that prioritizes giving all kids an equitable fair start in life.
Historically, women of color, disabled women, and low-income women have in some cases been targeted by family planning policies that claim to expand their reproductive choices, but in fact seek to limit the respective size and power of their communities. While not inherent in all family planning interventions, there are glaring examples, like the forced sterilization of Latina women in California. At the same time, some government policies often encourage wealthy, white women to have more children.
Scholarly articles have detailed these discriminatory policies and practices – from forced sterilizations to coerced use of contraceptives – and have demonstrated how they serve white supremacy and eugenics-oriented missions.
Internationally, there have been some examples of family planning interventions that have sought to further colonialist agendas. The Fair Start Movement acknowledges this fraught history. And we reject the use of family planning policies to limit the status of certain groups in order to elevate the status of others. Instead, promoting equity – and fighting racism – is at the heart of our approach.
The Fair Start Movement believes that all children have a right to a fair start in life. We also understand that all children have an impact on our environment. We therefore encourage all people to have smaller families, regardless of race, income level, physical ability, or any other status, and to support a distribution of resources that focuses on childhood equity.
Fighting the skyrocketing inequality in America is one of our primary goals. And we know the proven, most effective way to fight inequality is through better family planning to ensure a fair start along with helping communities support future generations.
We support policies that expand access to family planning services, and particularly, Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs), within all communities. However, unlike the punitive approaches used in China to implement the one child policy, we seek to educate individuals on the benefits of smaller families, rather than mandating decisions. Between 2009 and 2015, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative worked to expand access to LARCs in a non-coercive manner. The initiative cut teen births and abortions nearly in half, reduced the birth rate among young women ages 20-24 by 20 percent, and saved the state nearly 70 million dollars. As part of LARC4CO, we actively seek ways for other states to replicate Colorado’s success.
Our model also doesn’t stop at conception.
We believe in making the investments necessary to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed. We support initiatives such as baby bonds that are designed to promote equity. In particular, we believe that taxes on large wealthy families can be used to fund these entitlements for future generations, lessening the wealth and education gap. But we also know that children should not punished for their parents’ decisions. We therefore encourage use of soft law to provide non-coercive “nudges” for lower-income families, rather than subjecting them to taxes or other penalties that would only further inequality.
And our model is here for kids as they grow. By promoting universal access to early childhood education and working to advance environmental policies that strive to ensure that all children are able to enjoy nature, the Fair Start model fosters equitable development to ensure that children can continue to thrive as adults.
In short, we believe that having smaller, more equitable, and more sustainable families benefits everyone. However, we also know that talking about family planning can be taboo and that finding equitable solutions can be hard work. Rather than choosing silence – a decision that only serves the elite powers who use taboos to turn reformers against one another – we are committed to learning from various perspectives in order to strengthen our model of change.
As the Fair Start Movement grows and evolves, we encourage you to be a part of the conversation.